Bent Words

Bent Words

March 27, 2008

I hereby dedicate the salvation of this day to my dirty underwear.

I had previously resolved to waylay the laundering of my… laundry… for the weekend.

To be more precise, I had been putting it off.

Sure, “I could do it here,” I said to myself but I despise doing my laundry here. The washers and dryers are located on the first floor, for one, and that is also the exact location of all the crazy people in my building. I, on the other hand, reside on the third floor and whilst my floor is not entirely deficient of its own inadequacies, due to the recent influx of person’s with undesirable predilections (i.e. assholes), it is at least tolerably distanced from the goings on of the mentally flawed folks downstairs. Thus I have been of the sound habit of burdening my parental units and their laundering facilities for said… laundering… on Sundays since their abode is stationed in, more or less, a Lunatic Free Zone.

That and I get a free meal out of it. And free cable. And free cookies. And my ‘rents are of absolute, Grade A convivial company.

Still, one cannot always avoid the perils of pernicious persons (especially when one has naught the convenient comfort of clean underwear for the morrow).

And so it was that I was forced to risk my precious time for the inevitable showcasing of the newest collection of still-boxed Disney characters which crowd the space of #5’s apartment. I would likely be subject to the overly obvious wandering eyes of Mr. KFC while I excuse myself from all communicative situations on the pretext that I have “a very jealous boyfriend waiting for me in my apartment.” I would surely have to jeopardize my semblance of sanity for the ramblings of Lori, the short term memory maniac in #6, whose cat has now apparently died sixteen times since I’ve met her all for the sake of clean underwear.

Alas, I had to do my laundry amongst First Floor Freaks.

Thursday being my only day to get various bits of crap accomplished, I took on the challenge (in jogger’s shoes and pants) and quickly dumped two armfuls of socks and such into a washer along with a splash of soap and then, just as I was about to make a sprinting dash for the upper regions of my establishment in order to avoid all accidental confrontations, I noted the faint sound of an alarm coupled with a clear scent of gas.

Probably not good.

I crept down the hallway so as not to disturb the inmates and found the culprit to be an unknown resident in #1.

It seemed innocent enough. Whoever it was, he probably just burned his lunch and now had the luxury of answering to the touchy smoke alarms located in every apartment. I myself, after all, have set off the alarms by enjoying a scalding hot shower – who was I to question those incapable of properly utilizing a stove? I shrugged it off and headed back upstairs to tackle the cat box.

Ten minutes later, upon making my way to the dumpster with said cat aftermath, I noticed that #1’s smoke alarm was still sounding – I could plainly hear from outside.

“Crap,” I thought, imagining giant flames rising through the windows of my apartment, “I’m going to have to do something.”

So I quickly took pictures of my desktop, books, vacuum, DVD player, table and motorcycle helmet, readied the two cat carriers from the closet, prepared a small “in case of emergency” bag and then promptly called Susan, the building manager, at work.

She was on lunch. I had to leave a voice mail. I told her it was probably nothing. I didn’t know the occupant of #1, I said, so I didn’t want to disturb him. It was probably just a culinary error. Burnt cookies, I’m sure. I mentioned the gas and the alarm and likelihood of lunatics on parade in the lower regions of the building and then bid her a good day. I forgot to leave her my number because she’s probably the only human being alive who doesn’t have a cell phone ever present on her person capable of storing such pertinent information.

Feeling my obligations to society were complete, I went about my business of laundering and when I exited the… laundering room… I was greeted with the sound of sirens and Susan’s excited voice in the hallway. When I called to her, she turned to me with reddened eyes and a thankful hand to her chest. I asked her what the matter was and she could barely speak.

“He’s naked, Laura,” she gasped.

“Wha?”

“Jim is naked, save for a t-shirt and sock.”

My facial expression apparently noted the complete state of my confusion and thus Susan continued.

“Jim lives in #1. I called his apartment after your phone call and there was no answer so I drove over here. He’s apparently off his meds. I found him asleep in his bedroom, mostly naked, with the stove lit and a burning TV dinner. Can you get the door for the firemen?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

I was efficient. I held open the door, asked how the firemen were and welcomed the policemen and nodded at the ambulance driver and then calmly directed them through the next door and to the left. And they just kept filing in.

“Through that door and to your left, please. I’m doing fine, thank you. No I’m not the building manager – she is located through that door and to your left. Apartment number one which is through that door and to your left. I’m good, thanks, and how are you?”

(I knew I should have been a stewardess.)

I followed the last uniform to the end of the hallway and heard a muffled voice exit the apartment in question followed by a direct order of,

“Come on, Jimmy, spit out the bottle caps. All of ‘em, Jimmy, before you choke, come on.”

“Did he say ‘bottle caps’? Plural? Like, metal caps… from bottles?” I asked Susan.

She kind of nodded.

The uniforms convinced Old Jimmy to put on some pants and sat him down in a chair with straps. They told him they were taking his blood – “Yes, now” – and then wheeled him toward the door as Susan and I double checked the appliances.

Then, the crazy folk crept out from their respective holes.

According the to the First Floor Freaks, Jimmy had been seen earlier wandering the hallways naked. They each had stories about his also wandering the great outdoors with very limited clothing while it was snowing. Disney Character Guy and Memory Loss Girl had BOTH noted the smell of gas and the sound of the alarms and thus had promptly opened the exit doors. But…

“WHY DIDN’T EITHER OF YOU CALL THE POLICE?!” bellowed Susan.

“I only know 911,” said Memory Loss Girl.

Disney Character Guy made no reply.

Susan and I just stared at each other, for a long while, dismissing the two empty minds before us until I finally related that this was why I firmly avoided the ground floor. I told her that I did not know who lived in #1 and I did not know he was on medication or required special attention but that such information would be quite handy for future safety. I made a direct appeal for Jim’s immediate relocation and then apologized that I had not acted more swiftly (but how was I to know?).

She said she completely understood, that she should have informed me of Jim’s ‘delicate situation’ and thanked me profusely for having submitted myself to the First Floor Follies and for having called her in an expedient manner. She also assured me of his dismissal. I waved off the two idiots who were incapable of acting due to their own deranged sense of reality, reassured Susan as to her intelligent investigation and called my parental units in order to expel my absolute bewilderment toward such an incomprehensible situation.

Had it not been for you, I would perhaps not be writing this fine piece of prose. I would, quite likely, have ceased to be. I would, in effect, be an ex-person. Indeed, I might not have reached the hour’s calling of my 29th birthday if it weren’t for you, my savior, my guardian, my white knight, my dirty underwear.

Written at 11:03 p.m.